School Finance: K-12
• Role of this unit in pulling together themes
– State/local/federal roles
• What’s the problem(s)?
– Inputs? ($, teachers, class-size, admin., etc.)
– Outputs? (student performance, progress, gaps)
– Inequality? (re districts, kids, groups of kids, needs?)
• Legal frameworks
– Federal equal protection
– State constitutions: e/p, thorough & efficient?
– Statutes (local budgets, state law, federal law)?
Basics of School Finance
• Sources of funds?
– Local: primarily property tax (reflecting local tax base
& effort) perhaps + some sales tax
– State: income tax, sales tax, etc. distributed in
• Flat per unit (average daily class attendance)
• “Equalization”: (Strayer Haig): minimum local tax
effort, then state fills gap; but inequities if more
– Federal: categorical aid (Title I, impact aid)
School Finance: Varying Costs?
• Basics: Salaries, supplies
• Infrastructure: facilities, equipment
• BUT what about
– Differing program requirements/expectations?
– Student/teacher ratios?
– Paraprofessional support?
– Student needs that differ (e.g. special ed, poverty,
• How do administrative mechanisms affect
things? (school districts, schools, state/local
Statutory strategies: NC
• Standard inputs:
– Curriculum/course of study
– Class sizes & student/teacher ratios
• Standard outputs: Accountability (testing)
– Testing outputs (end of grade & course) (tests developed by
teachers and state school board)
– Report cards for each school district (geared to improvement)
– Rewards to personnel for reaching goals
– Technical assistance if low performing
– Retain kids who are low performing
– State school board can intervene & dismiss/replace personnel
NCLB: Federal Strategy
– Performance: absolute standard
– Adequate yearly progress toward “proficiency” (grade
level) by 2013-14
– Focus on subgroups (all and by race, LEP, economic,
– Implications: if one subgroup falls below standard on
one test category, entire school “needs improvement”
– Not rewards but punitive (first re Title I schools)
(parents have option to pull out, tutorials, more)
• Highly qualified teachers & paraprofessionals